I had the pleasure of interviewing Rayko, a Tokyo-born, Los Angeles based bilingual composer, singer, producer, and a multi-instrumentalist.
She is the lead singer and guitarist for the international rock group “Lolita Dark” and has toured across the U.S and Japan.
Raykos’ songs have been featured on the two-time Emmy winning Amazon Prime series, “The Man in The High Castle”, and films such as “The Wolves of Saving Hill” featuring late Michael Massee of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”
Thank you so much for joining us Rayko!
Let’s show everyone you’re a normal human being. What are your hobbies, favorite places to visit, pet peeves? Tell us about YOU when you’re not at the office.
“Whenever I’m not composing music, performing or recording I’m rolling on a mat at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai classes, my latest passions! I also love basketball, tennis, skateboarding and skiing.
“A favorite place to visit is my mother’s house. She is my best friend, the earthly savior, mentor, and she is also an associate professor of Chado (Japanese Tea Ceremony). I acquired the intermediate Chado/license by taking classes from her and I hope to become a Sensei one day myself!
“My BIGGEST pet peeve is entitled people. We are born naked with nothing and we will be returning with nothing when we die, so why boast?”
Can you tell us something about you that few people know?
“Someone very close to me calls me an emotional conduit. All I have to do is hear a story, or read some words, or experience an emotion and melodies just start flowing out of me. It is as if my mind has no sense of decorum.”
Do you have any exciting projects going on right now?
“I am currently working on two projects. One of them is called “Gratitude Video” with my dearest friend/music collaborator Frank Kilpatrick of Frank K Music and a Grammy winning producer Alex Wnd. This project contains nine songs (or more) of meditative, spiritual, uplifting messages accommodated by visuals that best depicts those messages.
“I also have a symphonic rock band called Lolita Dark. I am the lead singer/composer/multi-instrumentalist of the band. We have two albums and one EP, and we perform live as 5–13 piece, depending on the size of the stage or gig. “
Many people say success correlates with the people you meet in your life. Can you describe two that most impacted your success and why?
“Please allow me to describe three:
1. My father was a publicly-known physiologist who later made a new chapter of success as a cosmeceutical doctor with a few best-selling books in health/beauty in Japan. If I wasn’t his daughter the pressure, racism, stereotypes, and competitiveness of U.S. entertainment business would’ve sent me back to Japan ages ago. My mother, at the lowest part of my life told me that I am the best daughter any mother could ever ask for. Her faith in me still helps me today to keep my faith alive.
2. My progressive Japanese female piano teacher. She, instead of leaving the little “piano lesson hater girl” that she called me, she suggested we burn all the sheet music in our back yard and start training my ears where she saw real my talent was. After two weeks of intense training she asked me to compose and play a song about my mother. So, the first song I ever composed was about my mother. It just effortlessly flew out of me. That day was the beginning of my life as a composer. I owe her this recognition.
3. Frank Kilpatrick — I call him my collaborator professionally but he is much more than that. After years and years of experience and let downs, betrayals, horrible people, and a jaded view of humanity, I met Frank. He opened so many doors with strong faith in my talent and calling. Being recognized as an ‘artist’ is a blessing on its own. Meeting him continues to change my life.
Can you discuss one of the lowest points in your life personally or professionally and how you dealt with it?
“In 2011 I suffered a horrible back injury. The orthopedist told me even with shots and surgeries I may never walk again. I even contemplated suicide because to an artist and licensed athlete it was like a death sentence. AiRain Balen, my newlywed husband and Lolita Dark bass player, and Joey Felix, our best friend and Lolita Dark drummer, along with our friend Amy found me this miracle doctor Rick Morris who fixed me up completely without surgery by using spinal decompression therapy.
“It was one of the darkest 4 months of my life, but it gave me the opportunity to engrave some of the most beautiful moments of humanity to my heart and I will remember it for the rest of my life.”
Leaders always seem to find ways to overcome their weaknesses. Can you share one or two examples of how you work outside of your comfort zone to achieve success?
“Moving out of Japan to start living the culture of the U.S. to become a ‘relatable artist’ was the toughest venture I took on as a young teenager. I had almost zero friends here and not having a clue how this country would react (to my music) I walked up and down Melrose, Sunset, Hollywood and at every local college and university and handed out my music to every soul I could.
“Some rejections were quite harsh. I even got hit by a girl thinking that I was picking up on her boyfriend while promoting. I just never quit. After a while of doing that I started packing every show we played!”
The concept of mind over matter has been around for years. A contemporary description of this is having mental toughness. Can you give us an example (or two) of obstacles you’ve overcome by getting your mind in the right place (some might call this reframing the situation)?
“I got bit by a male dressed as a Cowboy on stage while performing in a small town of California. Mind over matter… When I’m on stage a fearless soul takes over me and I am the stage Rayko. After a second of shock I looked right into his eyes and said, ‘Thank you, that was very interesting. I slept well that night.”
What are your “3 Lessons I Learned from My Most Memorable Failure”?
1. “Back when I was in an Asian gang in Japan, my mother had hand-written a 30+ page letter to me pleading to change my life. I was so lost back then as she finished the letter and handed it to me in tears. I ripped them into pieces without even opening the envelope, right in front of her eyes of disbelief. She did not make a copy, so I will never know the contents of the most important letter my mother had ever written to me. Ever. Now I live my life in joyful sacrifice to my mother. There is nothing in the world more precious to me than her. I will make mistakes but will never do anything that I will regret later that involves my mother.
2. “I decided to help one of my fans who was an outcast and craved to fit in. I helped him for over a year or so, almost daily, over Facebook messenger mostly on a makeover and his weight issues. I couldn’t have imagined in a million years that he would successfully sneak into Phoenix Comicon a few years later with a fully-loaded shotgun, handgun, and hunting knife. planning to murder one of the celebrity guests Jason David Frank.
“On the morning of 5/25/2017 my phone was blowing up with immense number of messages from him confessing his plan to murder JDF, and a plea for help that I stop him. With the help of my dear friend Scott Nichols of Hawthorne PD and Phoenix PD, Mr. Matthew Sterling was arrested. Lesson learned — with whatever power I have as an artist it comes great responsibility… and I’m not even a Spider-Man.
What unfiltered advice can you give aspiring stars regarding how to avoid common misfires in starting their career?
“Never put a limitation on your capability and take on every chance that comes your way, wisely. The worse you can get is a ‘no,’ so keep going. Always take opinions with a grain of salt because tomorrow you may hear the opposite from someone you also respect. And please, sleep well! It all starts with a good night of sleep!”
What is the best lesson you learned from your worst boss?
What is one “efficiency hack” you use consistently in your life to keep your time and mind free to focus on your strengths and passions?
“God, and Japanese Tea Ceremony.”
What’s on the drawing board for your next venture?
“My co-writer Frank Kilpatrick and I are planning to team up with Dr. Mark Goulston, aka the Suicide Doctor, to reach out to the anime and gaming community where my band Lolita Dark has a strong following. The community is filled with people who struggle with self-worth. I am also from Japan, the number two #2 suicide capital of the world. Once the project gets rolling here I want to expand it to help people in Japan.”
“Also, a major promotion of Gender Genocide Frank and I co-wrote. “Gender Genocid” supports the empowerment of women and everyone who has been kept voiceless.”
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What did we miss? Feel free to share any other thoughts or advice on overcoming failure, initiatives you’re currently supporting, any other relevant information you would like to share with the readers.
“Fear is our worst enemy. We waste so much time being afraid of things that mostly never happen.
“Also, comparing ourselves to others… it is a terrible mistake! We Never know who others really are and what they are going through. So, put a focus on yourself and love yourself in a healthy way. Always use your gut instinct and be wise. Keep working on your craft and never stop learning. Chase opportunities that bring love to the world. When you are blessed spread it all around.”
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thanks so much for joining us, Rayko!
Originally published at medium.com